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by Leigh Morrisett

Ask The Wedding Guide: How much will a wedding officiant cost?

Reply: To answer the question of how much or what is a proper officiant fee, we must first know what is a wedding officiant. A wedding officiant is the person who is officially and legally able to preside over a marriage ceremony.  This person may be a religious officiant, such as a minister, priest, rabbi, chaplain or a civil officiant (Justice of the Peace or Judge, for example).  States and even local cities and municipalities have guidelines on who is legally able to preside over a marriage, so please check with your local government to make sure your choice of officiant is recognized by them.

So what is the proper fee? Etiquette wise the fee is called an Honorarium. Some officiants have set fees.  It is up to you to inquire if they have a set fee for weddings.  These fees can run anywhere from $20 to $1000 or more.  The fee consists of the officiants time as well as travel expenses.  That is why you see variances in fee ranges.  If you are having a short marriage ceremony maybe at your local court house a fee of $20 to $150 is not unreasonable.

The tough question of etiquette comes when your chosen officiant does not have a set fee. I suggest asking the church secretary about how much couples have offered in honorarium in the past. You can, also, ask your marriage license bureau about the general cost of a civil officiant. If you have had close friends use the officiant in their wedding ask them. You can, also, determine the wedding officiant fee by take into account the time the officiant has in travel plus the time of the ceremony along with the time taken with other wedding activities the officiant has helped you with and use a fair market hourly rate.